ANTWERP, Belgium — American gymnastic Simone Biles became the first woman to do the Yurchenko double pike at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships with the vault now to be named after her.
The Yurchenko double pike is the most difficult jump in the women’s scoring code and was rated at 6.4 points by the technical committee in anticipation of it being performed.
The 26-year-old, who is a five-time all-around world champion and seven-time Olympic medalist, registered the best scores on floor exercise, vault and balance beam and the second-best score behind teammate Shilese Jones on uneven bars through the first portion of qualifying.
The American team of Biles, Jones, Skye Blakely, Leanne Wong and Joscelyn Roberson combined for a total of 171.395, which figures to be the best by a considerable margin by the end of qualifying. Italy was second at 162.230 through two of the 10 subdivisions.
Biles, whose 25 world championship medals (19 of them gold) is already a record, will get a chance to add substantially to that total throughout the week.
The US will be heavily favored to win the team title on Wednesday. The all-around finals are Friday, with event finals scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Biles, who returned to competition this summer following a two-year break after the Tokyo Olympics, completed her signature Yurchenko double pike vault with ease, scoring a 15.766 even though she voluntarily took a half-point deduction so coach Laurent Landi could stand on the mat as a precaution.
Jones, who won three medals at the 2022 world championships, will join Biles in the all-around finals after posting a total of 56.932 led by a sparkling set on uneven bars, where her 14.833 led all competitors.
With 25 world medals, the most of any gymnast in history, and seven Olympic medals, the oldest American woman to compete at the worlds now has five skills named after her, two on the floor exercise, two on vault, and one on the balance beam.
With 25 world medals, the most of any gymnast in history, and seven Olympic medals, Biles is the oldest American woman to compete at the worlds.
She now has five skills named after her – two on the floor exercise, two on vault, and one on the balance beam.
Biles’ efforts, which come 10 years after her global debut in the same city, helped the United States top the women’s qualifying table.
She had not competed internationally since pulling out of five of her six finals at the delayed Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.
Biles later explained she had been suffering from the ‘twisties’ – a mental block where gymnasts can lose their sense of space in the air.
Great Britain’s men finished third in qualifying with Max Whitlock, Harry Hepworth, Jake Jarman, James Hall and Courtney Tulloch combining to score 254.193 points and secure their spot in Tuesday’s final.
The women’s team, consisting of Jessica Gadirova, Ondine Achampong, Alice Kinsella, Georgia-Mae Fenton and Ruby Evans are currently second on 166.130 points.
The women’s team final takes place on Wednesday.